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Saturday, 9 May 2015

It's a Global Market out there - part two

My last blog was all about my purchase of a Mobile phone.  I's a OnePluse One - a Chinese brand, obviously made in China, and I bought it online from a NZ-based retailer with links to Hong Kong and other Asian markets.  The phone is still running great and I am still as happy as a sandboy.  See that last blog.

Fountain pen.
Lamy Safari x 2 
I just thought I would contrast this purchase with another I made around the same time.  I don't do much hand-writing or note taking, partly because my handwriting is of the proverbial Doctor Quality. Even worse, when I use a ball-point pen I cannot get much control and even I can't read the ensuing scrawl.  So I usually use a fountain pen which gives me better control, and then there is a chance I can read what I write.  Of course fountain pens are technology and boys like technology, so I have a small collection of Lamy fountain pens, mostly Lamy Safari models.  They are relatively inexpensive, great performers, and a bit of a styling icon.

Anyway I was searching the web for a retailer who could sell me some more ink cartridges (my usual retail shop is in Wellington and I don't get to his end of town often now).  What did I find but a link to a Chinese pen made by a company called Jinhao.  The particular model was a Jinhao 599 and my search had found it because it referenced the Lamy Safari.  Not surprising really as you could describe it as a 'homage to a great design', or maybe you could say 'a knock-off'.  I had a giggle and then, out of curiosity, looked for some reviews of the pen.  There are sites where people, fixated on fountain pens, participate in erudite discussions on the benefits or otherwise of various models.  Well the reviews were all positive!



Now my curiosity was piqued. You see the pens were really cheap, I mean really cheap.  On Ebay I found many retailers selling these.  I picked on one, IChina520, and splashed out and ordered 3 pens, orange, yellow and black, and a package of ink cartridges (although the pens came with a free conventional ink supply as well).  The three pens and the ink cartridges came to the princely sum of $NZ10.44.  With that I got a discount for buying 3, plus the shipping was free.

It took a couple of weeks for the pens to turn up, but they did.  Maybe the plastic quality isn't quite up to the exceptional quality of the $50+ Lamy, but the pens write very well, and sit nicely in the hand - that Lamy design is good.

I don't feel too guilty about buying these copies - I plan to give one to my 7 year old grand daughter, and I would never have considered giving her a real Safari.  Maybe if she likes it I will get her a real one in a few years time.

Take a look at IChina's shop and see the choices - they do other pens as well - some with a distinctly Chinese flavour.